Jason Heyward 2014 Projection



Jason Heyward had a very strange, and somewhat disappointing 2013 season. Bad luck on balls in play (.163 on June 1, despite a healthy batted ball profile) and fluke injuries (apendectomy, jaw) partially ruined a season that could have been great. While none of this was really Jason’s fault, it’s hard to categorize his 2013 season as a “very good one”. Given his age, we are expecting Jason to make huge advances at the plate.  However, we did see some good signs out of him last year, especially in the 2nd half.

His overall walk rate rose last season to near 11%, and his strike-out rate dropped to a below league average 16.6%. His baserunning wasn’t as good as it had been in the past, however, which is cause for a little concern; Jason attempted just 6 stolen bases last year (successful twice). However, by the year’s end, his wRC+ was a shade under what he posted in 2012. Given the way his season started, this is remarkable.

We should be extremely excited about Jason’s potential in 2014. Entering his age 25 season, he should be poised to get even better, as many others on this list did as well. His plate discipline is superb, and with his combination of power, speed, and contact, if finally healthy, can post a superb stat line. The Jason Heyward we saw at the plate in 2010 was special, but at age 25, he can be even better, and if that is to happen, the Braves have a great chance to win in 2014.  The future leadoff hitter can do many special things for the team, and will be essential to the offense’s success.

The 3 main player projections systems are all extremely bullish on Heyward for the upcoming season; Steamer projects him for 5.1 wins, Oliver for 4.4 wins, and ZiPS for 3.4 . The slash lines for Steamer and Oliver can be found on his Fangraphs player page, and his ZiPS projections, here .

My personal expectations for Heyward- .275 batting average, with an OBP near .370. 20-25 homeruns, with near 30 doubles, and near 10 stolen bases all seem pretty attainable for a player of his caliber, entering his age 24-25 season, his fifth season overall.

To be honest, might be a little low given the performance Jason had in the 2nd half last season, but we should always temper our early expectations. Remember how we all had hopes of every outfielder posting a 30-30 season? In the end, not a single player reached the plateau, as our leading HR hitter had 27 home runs, and utility man Jordan Schafer lead the team in steals with 22.

As the old adage goes, the game isn’t played on paper, we will have to wait and see. However, we have every reason to believe that Jason can post a superb 2014 season.

Tags: Braves

  • http://www.tomahawktake.com/ Chris Headrick

    Linked your piece on our projections page Julien. Now let me read your piece… :-)

  • Lee Trocinski

    The base-stealing issues are primarily due to him not being 100% most of the year. His UBR was at 1.1, which was in line with ’10 and ’11. He’s more of a first-to-third, first-to-home guys anyways, so as long as he doesn’t give away outs with CS’s, his legs will be fine.

    The BB/K ratio was good to see, though his power took a hit because of it. He also hit a ton of popups (along with half the team), which shows there was some false improvement in plate discipline.

    Overall, he’s still arguably the best player on the team, and only Simmons and Freeman were better than him last year. The fact that he hasn’t turned into the best player has overshadowed his truly great start to a career. As long as the injuries can stop piling up, he’ll be one of the best players of the first quarter of the century.

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  • http://www.bible-tech.com/ Justin A

    No way! This guy is the 2nd incarnation of Jeff franceour. Came up with high expectations, but hasn’t been what we hoped for. His contract shows only guarded optimism in the front office. I predict he has already plateaued. He will try and show everyone he is better than j Upton this year, but be unsuccessful.

    • Lee Trocinski

      You are talking about a top 40 player all-time through age 23, along with a top 25 player since ’10. Heyward’s 2012 season was as valuable as Francoeur’s entire career, so comparing the two is ridiculous.

      Heyward had no reason to sign an extension, since he had such an injury-riddled season, and career, so far. He’s waiting to have a 150-game season to go for the extension.

      As far as his performance compared to J-Up, the two have had nearly identical up-and-down career paths. Most people have Heyward as a better player this year, since his defense is way better than Justin. They played at the same level in different ways last year, and hopefully they both play closer to their potential this year.